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Ask the Expert

Q: Is the morning-after pill (Plan B) the same thing as the abortion pill?

The “morning-after pill” or Plan B is separate from the abortion pill. A morning-after pill is a form of emergency contraception - meaning it tries to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex or if a condom breaks. Many versions of the morning-after pill are available with and without a prescription from a doctor, as well as other methods, like intrauterine devices (IUDs). The morning-after pills can be effective up to 5-7 days after unprotected sex, depending on which one you use, but it is way better to take the pill sooner than that. The sooner you take it after having sex, the more effective it is in preventing pregnancy.

On the other hand, the “abortion pill” is used to end a known pregnancy (meaning you already know you are pregnant). It usually involves two types of pills that are taken one after the other to do this. All these pills work to temporarily change your hormones, either to keep you from getting pregnant or to stay pregnant. They can also cause cramping and bleeding like a heavy period.

For more information and tips, check out Bedsider.

Dr. Diane Straub, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine & Professor of Pediatrics, USF Health and Medical Director, Ybor Youth Clinic

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